Some high school football teams might want to test the light bulbs in the home scoring section of the scoreboard before the playoffs get under way tonight.
However, there might be a few teams in southwest Missouri that are on “upset alert.”
The first weekend of the new Missouri State High School Activities Association playoff system begins tonight with 27 games, with seven more to come on Friday night.
The new system sits four area teams on byes, and presents a handful of expected blowouts, including three of the 9-0 vs. 0-9 variety.
In the Massey Ratings matchup system, which is used for the News-Leader Man Vs. Machine feature, 12 of the 34 games today and Friday are being predicted as 30-plus point blowouts.
But it’s not just laughers on the slate. Most of the intriguing matchups, though, pit teams that may not have made the postseason a year ago.
Just like March Madness in college basketball, though, there’s always a chance somebody pulls a Norfolk State.
One game to keep an eye on is Neosho traveling to Kickapoo (5-4).
On the surface, the 0-9 Wildcats do not look too threatening, but Neosho has beaten Kickapoo in each of the last two seasons in district play.
Both years, Kickapoo came in with the better record, including last year when 0-7 Neosho topped the 5-2 Chiefs, 28-21.
Kickapoo had a shot at getting a bye into the playoffs this year, but blew a 16-6 lead last week in a 20-16 loss at Joplin. That meant the Chiefs did not get a chance to rest nagging injuries.
“We’re nicked up a little bit, and we have some guys who are playing with nicks and bruises,” Kickapoo coach Joel Wells said.
Even if Kickapoo wins, Wells and the Chiefs will have to travel to Nixa next week on Halloween night to face the coach’s former team.
Others to keep an eye on for upsets include teams that are hard to gauge because of their schedule.
Maybe they are playing up against higher-class opponents in league games. That might make them dangerous, or the opposite could be hard to read based on playing down in class.
Teams such as Carl Junction, Hillcrest, Lamar and Skyline are among those teams that are hard to read.
Injuries also play a factor. For instance, Mount Vernon lost junior quarterback Alex Hausman for the season on Oct. 5 in a win over Aurora.
The Mountaineers (5-4) lost their next two games, but were competitive against Carl Junction and Cassville.
Mount Vernon lost to Seneca 48-20 this season, and will have Jacob Lasalle starting at quarterback for the third game.
“He’s a freshman kid, and he’s doing a great job,” Mount Vernon coach Ozzie Riley said. “Against Seneca, it was one of those games we played this year that was frustrating. We had the ball inside the 10 a couple times and didn’t get in.”